December 15, 2018
"We Can Believe Whatever God Says"
Due to a physical ailment I was virtually without a voice for a few days recently. As one person suggested, "That's not good for a preacher." Thankfully it happened at such a time that it didn't interfere with any preaching responsibilities. However I did find myself needing to make some adjustments, such as corresponding with people more by email or texting rather than by phone conversations.
My brief predicament gave me fresh empathy for one of the individuals associated with the events surrounding Jesus' birth. I'm referring to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. As you may recall he ended up not being able to talk for approximately nine months. He wasn't just hoarse - at least I could manage to get out a whisper or a few recognizable words through my cracking voice. Zacharias was rendered completely mute for that lengthy time period. His condition was not the result of a physical ailment but rather a spiritual issue. He had received a visit from the angel Gabriel announcing that he and his wife were going to have a son. Due to their advanced age - in other words, they were getting old - Zacharias wasn't as quick to believe this message as he should have been. He immediately faced this divine judgment of not being able to speak until the child was born.
I'm thankful God doesn't make it a regular practice to take away the voices of those who fail to believe what He says. If he did, we all probably would have experienced some mute periods in our lives. Maybe we can think of a few people around us or in the world today whose voices we wouldn't mind being silenced for a while. However, in our day it would probably just mean they would spend more time tweeting their comments or ranting on Facebook instead.
Although we may not face the same kind of judgment as Zacharias did, we do have to guard against the same fault of unbelief. Do we believe what God says? You probably haven't received a visit from Gabriel recently, but that doesn't mean we don't have clear and authoritative messages from God. He has given us His Word through which He speaks to us. His Holy Spirit rightly applies those messages to our own lives and circumstances. His promises, commands, and principles can still be heard. Do we believe?
"Believe" is often one of the concepts emphasized at Christmas. It's often used in connection with believing in Santa and flying reindeer, or believing in the magic of Christmas, or believing in the Christmas spirit, or simply believing in other people. However the most important aspect of this truth is believing God. Additionally it's not just about believing in God, as significant as that is, but actually believing what God says and what He promises to do. There are those who claim to believe in God, but who don't believe His Word or some particular message God has given to them. Zacharias certainly believed in God. He was a priest and is described as a righteous man who followed God's commands. However he stumbled at this message about a child being born.
Is there something in God's Word that you're failing to believe? Is there some message or promise God has given to you that you're stumbling over through unbelief? Maybe it seems too unlikely, or it would mean a major change in your life, or it isn't what you were hoping for. Yet it's what God says.
If you don't believe, you may not lose your voice, but you will face some consequences, including missing out on the blessing that comes by having faith in God and His Word. So believe!